Life is Good by Bert and John Jacobs

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Life is not perfect

Life is not easy

but Life is good

I love this introductory quote from the life is good book! This is a wonderful book for anyone at any stage of life, but would be especially useful for someone going through a tough time.

Its core central message is that in today’s world we are inundated with a flood of overwhelming negativity. Undoubtedly there are many things that are wrong in this world, but they are many more wonderful things that never get the time of day from media outlets.

This book is a fight against the negative news cycle, and to inform people of the 10 superpowers that everyone possesses to spread the power of positivity, love and joy throughout the world. What you focus on grows. So if all we hear and see is what is going wrong, and all we talk about is what we do not like, then we will never reach a solution. The essence of this book is simple: become a rational optimist.

How can you become a rational optimist? Below are some actionable items from this wonderful book.

“Get to” vs. “Have to” – How many times do you feel resentment or subtle negativity about having to complete a routine task, such as grocery shopping or doing the dishes? I know I do. What we are doing is focusing on the obligation. A simple but powerful way to transform our experience is to change our language from “I have to” to “I get to”

So instead of “I have to” go grocery shopping, it becomes “I get to” go grocery shopping. I am blessed enough to have two feet and shoes to walk to the store. I am blessed enough to live in an area where I have ready access to an absurd abundance of food. I am blessed enough to have enough financial resources to eat.

“Like me..” – How many times after someone does something “bad” do you instantly judge them and get angry and lack compassion. I know I have. Using the simple phrase “Like me…” helps me reconnect with all that we have in common. For example if someone cuts me off while driving, my initial reaction is to get angry and exclaim they are an asshole. However, I remember that like me they rush when they are running late. Like me they become less aware of their surroundings when they are worried.

The power of fun – I mentioned this in today’s thought of the day (Read More: Nov 28th 2015: Thought of the Day). When we grow up it is easy to forget to feed our inner child because we have more “serious” and “important” work to do. While this may give you short term gains, it will lead to long term decreased performance and burnout.

Like everything in life, our focus and energy levels has cycles. We can not always be in “go mode.” We need periods of intense focus and deep relaxation and fun.

If you do not take time to recharge your batteries you will be unable to fully give your best gifts to the world.

For more insightful and actionable items accompanied with jokes that will have you laughing out loud and moving stories please check out this book.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

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What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

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You may be thinking why is a blog about athletics doing a book review on a book by Oprah Winfrey. As I mentioned in a previous post greatness leaves clues and that studying and modeling mentors is essential to reaching your full potential. Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful people in the history of humankind. I am defining success not by how much money one accumulates, nor how big their empire is but by the positive impact they have on others lives. Although Oprah has done great on all those fronts as well.

You may be mulling what does this have to do with sports? It has everything to do with sports. As I mentioned in a previous post you need to take a holistic approach to anything in life if you want it to be sustainable. Also, the point of competitive athletics is NOT to win games or championships but to become the best you can be. This book beautifully discusses the wisdom  which not only will help you to live a happier life but to become the best person and therefore athlete you can be.

This book was motivated by a powerful question a reporter asked Oprah in an interview. “What do you know for sure?”  This question may seem trivial. However, upon introspection one realizes how profound of a question it is. We take so much for granted. What is it that we truly know? What is just irrelevant background noise that is mostly societal conditioning? Oprah’s answered it perfectly:

“I know for sure: Your journey beings with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”  

She expands on this in her book by detailing the eight key emotions to foster in your life to become the strongest version of yourself. However, the main principle that underlies everything in the book is being present and seeking the stillness. (The tools mentioned in the book are discussed in the Neuroscience of Achievement Series)

Joy 

Living a life filled with joy and happiness is a choice not a result of external circumstance! No matter how bad one’s life situation is, it could always be worse. The key to living a joy filled life is not to accumulate massive amounts of wealth but to learn to enjoy less.

Resilience 

Life is always going to throw curve balls, but the negative events or circumstances we experience are NOT the problem. The problem is our reaction to them, which is primarily mediated by fear. Theodore Rooselvot said it best: “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear causes us to retreat, to NOT follow our heart and choose the “safe” path. Whenever I have made a poor decision it was motivated by fear. Cultivating courage is one of the most important practices. However, it is vital to understand that courage does NOT mean the lessening of fear, but rather action in the face of fear.

Connection  

As I elaborated on in a previous post we live in an interdependent world. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. In the 75 year Harvard’s Men’s Study the only factor that was correlated with improved happiness, success, and wealth across all co-variates was social connections. Humans are social creatures, and crave for meaning in a social context. It is vital that you realize your interconnectedness and make time for those who are most important to you.

Gratitude 

This is something I struggle with a lot as I am such an insanely competitive person. I am always comparing myself to others and putting myself down for not achieving as much as my peers. However, it is such a self-defeating habbit. This segment from a new J Cole song (Love Yourz) perfectly summarizes what Oprah tries to get across in this segment of her book.

Always gon’ be a bigger house somewhere, but n**ga feel me
Long as the people in that motherfucker love you dearly
Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you got
Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
Always gon’ be a bitch that’s badder out there on the tours
But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours

Physical objects will never bring you long lasting happiness, you will always be “inferior” in certain respects. The key to happiness is owning and cherishing this present moment, because it is the only thing you have for sure.

Possibility and Awe 

I have tied the summary of these two sections because they are intricately linked. A lot of times in the slew of deadlines, expectations and pressure it is easy to lose sight of all the ordinary miracles, and the amazing possibilities we all have been blessed.  It is vital that we give ourselves the space and time to realize all the wonder surrounding us.

Clarity 

We are all going to die. No one gets out alive. It could be viewed as a depressing thought. However, mortality is what makes life special. Everything we have the opportunity to experience is a ephemeral. Therefore is is essential that we instil a sense of urgency since we are all going to die soon enough.

Power  

We all have extraordinary power inside of ourselves. However, many of us have been brainwashed that we no control over our life. This is absolutely false. As I mentioned in a previous  post you must focus on what you can control and NOT on what you don’t control. Every morning we wake up you choose how you spend your time. Just remember how much of a privilege that is. Oprah recalls her experience acting in the movie Beloved and the scene after the protagonist (a former slave) wakes up and realizes that wow I get to decide what to do. Her whole life she could only imagine, if I got to decide. This is a privilege that we take for granted. We all have infinite power available to us if we wake up and become conscious of our power to decide.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

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4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris

Not only an informative read but a fun read as well.

Not only an informative read but a fun read as well.

This is one of my favorite books of all time, not only because it is absolutely stuffed with amazing content but Tim Ferris’s unconventional humor and willingness to challenge the status quo is so refreshing. This book claims to be:

“An Uncommon guide to rapid fat-loss, incredible sex, and becoming superhuman.” 

Well the first thing you may think, is well Tim Ferris is some egotistical and vain monster. However, that is NOT true. Attempting to better your physical appearance is just a Trojan Horse. You may be thinking what they hell am I talking about. Your not improving your physical appearance JUST to improve your physical appearance. You strive to be the best you can physically  so that you no longer accept limiting beliefs or partial completeness. If you can get down to 4% body fat without drugs or add 100lbs to your Dead lift in a month (things I have done with his tips while being a full time college student and holding down two part time jobs) you will have the confidence to be the best you can be so you can best impact and change this world.

What is the underlying theme behind all the amazing advice offered in this book? Understanding the Minimum Effective Dosage (MED). If you only take one thing from this book understanding MED is absolutely essential. MED builds upon the 80/20 principle which states that 80% of your results are derived from 20% of your results. Tim Ferris takes this to an even more extent looking for the 5% of actions that produce 95% of your results. It is absolutely essential that you respect the MED for an action as the human body is very sensitive, and doing more then needed is NOT only unnecessary but HARMFUL as your body has a limited capacity to filter out and get rid of the associated waste products with unnecessary action. I will discuss in future posts some specific lessons from 4 hour body. However, do not get caught up in the details and forget about the most important underlying concept, MED.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

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Sleep to Win! by Dr. James B. Maas

This book is an absolute game changer. It is a MUST read for any aspiring athlete. However, for those who do not have enough time to read this book now I am going to summarize the main points about this book and key take-aways because the implications of this book are too important to ignore. However, this book is a very quick and fun read because unlike the vast majority of books about sleep all the information is presented in a pseudo parable and Q and A form which makes it very accessible to all readers, even those without a science background.

The most important take-away from this book is that we all underestimate the amount and quality of sleep and the deleterious effects of NOT getting enough quality sleep. How much sleep should you get if you are an elite athlete that is aspiring to become the best they can be? If you are under the age of 25 you need ~ 9 1/4 hours of sleep, and if you are over age 25 anywhere from 7.5-8.5 hours.The most important reason specifically for athletes why you need this much sleep is that only after 6.5 hours of sleep in stage 2 sleep the appearance of sleep spindles occurs, which triggers a rush of calcium into the brain’s motor cortex. This allows your brain to go over and solidify whatever you learnt from training that day. Missing out on these sleep spindles is why you may feel you had a specific skill in the bag after training one day, but when you come back the next day it seems you never practiced that skill at all!

But you might be thinking wait a minute! This is absolutely ridiculous! But saying you do not have enough time is NOT a valid excuse. If you want to be the best you can be you must make sleep a priority because it is a force multiplier that will make everything else in your life better. In addition, when your brain is fully rested you tend to work much faster and more efficiently.If you have been sleep deprived for a prolonged period of time you may have become used to your brain functioning at a much lower level than it should. If you give the brain the high quality sleep it needs you will notice a huge spike in your cognition and memory.

The rest of the book is devoted to auxiliary issues surrounding sleep, such as napping. I have summarized the most important ones from this book below:

1. Napping can be a very powerful tool when used correctly. Most people use napping incorrectly, which has caused napping to receive a bad rep. In addition, there is this incorrect negative stereotype that if you nap you are lazy. That is WRONG! Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders in human history, was an ardent napper. But how do you nap correctly?

Firstly, Limit Naps to 20 minutes or if you wish to nap longer you must stay asleep for at least 90 minutes Geek Alert: If you limit your naps to 20 minutes then you will only go through Stage I and Stage II of sleep, and will NOT enter a deep phase of sleep. This is very important because the groggy feeling you may experience after taking a nap is due to waking up during the deep phase of sleep, in which you brain’s electrical signals is firing at a much lower frequency than that during a waking state. That is why it will take you ~ 20-30 minutes to feel normal again. However, if you do plan on napping for more than 20 minutes make sure you stay asleep for 90 minutes(which is roughly the length of one sleep cycle). Geek Alert Over. Secondly only take naps during the morning or early afternoon. Taking them too close to bed will disrupt your sleep that night.

2. Do NOT eat too close to bed time – The reason is quite simple, when you eat a heavy meal right before bed a significant amount of blood flow and energy is shifted towards your digestive tract to digest the food you just ate. However, for high quality sleep you need a significant amount of blood flow directed towards you brain. Therefore you want at least 2-3 hours between your last meal and sleep to ensure that not too much blood is being re-directed from your brain to your gut.

3. One of the most common cause of injuries is a lack of sleep – When do injuries usually occur? At the beginning of the game or at the end? The end usually because you are tired and are more likely to make a misstep. The probability of injuries sky rockets when you are sleep deprived. I feel we intuitively understand this at some level, but it is tantamount that we are consciously aware of this relationship. Almost all of my injuries have occurred during stages in my life in which I was NOT respecting my need for high quality sleep.

4. Be judicious of your use of stimulants – It is well documented that continuos use of stimulants will results in desensitization to its stimulatory effects. However, even if your body is desensitized to the stimulatory effects, if they are taken to close to bed your body does NOT become desensitized to the negative effects they have on your sleep. Let me give you a simple example about coffee. The first time you have a cup you most likely felt a huge surge of energy. Then as you continued drinking coffee you tended to need to drink more and more for the same effect. Now for example you are needing up five cups of coffee a day. So even though your body is desensitized to the stimulatory effects of caffeine it has NOT become desensitized to the negative effects it will have on your quality of sleep. This creates a very vicious cycle because decreased sleep quality causes you to need more coffee which further decreases the quality of your sleep. This is why I personally do NOT consume any caffeine. 

There you have it, the most important take-aways from this amazing book. If you are serious about your success it is vital that you begin working these key points into your daily life. And once you have the time I highly recommend you pick up this book to discover some of the nuances I do not have the time or space to go over.

As always please always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at pavanmehat12@gmail.com with any questions for future topics you would like for me to discuss. Blogs such as these are much more fun and helpful if there is interaction.

Book Review: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

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I am in writing this article because of feedback I got after writing about the five must read books for any aspiring athlete. I got great feedback (Thanks to all those who have made comments or have personally reached out to me! That is what makes blogs like these fun!) about that article because it highlighted some powerful books that many were not aware of. So if you have not read that article I would definitely check it out. However, even though many people were intrigued by the books mentioned in that article,  right now adding reading a new book to their reading list was not a major priority, but they would love if I could summarize the main points of each book so that they could start applying the core themes of them to help improve their athletic performance and their lives.

So I am going to do a quick review about the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. I am going to continuously do book reviews, and if there is a book you would like me to summarize please let me know! Otherwise I am going to do book reviews of the five books I mentioned above and then whatever books I feel will best support you in becoming the best athlete and person you can be.

If someone put a gun to my head and they forced me to say what the main theme of this book is I would present the image below:

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This should not be something new to you. If you have had any sort of decent mentor or coach during your athletic career or life I am sure they would have mentioned or alluded to the importance of the small tasks and attention to detail. However, knowledge not applied is useless. The rest of the book gives you plenty of examples to hammer this point into your head and delves into the nuances and mindsets that are necessary to maintain the discipline to consistently execute small positive behaviors that will lead to HUGE results. The thee major take-ways from the book other than to sweat the small things that may seem inconsequential in the moment because they compound over time is:

1. Keep Track of whatever you want to change (write it down!)  – To be able to make the positive small changes in your life you must be aware of how you are currently doing now! And keeping track does not mean just trying to take a mental note of it. You MUST get a notebook and write down everything related to what you want to change. For example he mentions how he began to turn his frivolous spending habits around. He began to write down every time he bought something. This drastically curtailed his spending and enabled him to be aware of his spending habits to see what small inconsequential daily purchases was costing to waste an insane amount of money.

2. Your choices determine your habits which determine your success – Making the right choices is the key to success once you are aware of your circumstances. If you are making poor choices, you will develop poor habits which will limit or prevent you from succeeding. So it is absolutely essential that you take aggressive action and make good choices which will develop good habits to override your previously poor habits which will empower you to succeed.

3. The power of being consistent – Consistency is key because the longer you are able to maintain positive disciplines, the more momentum is on your side. Just like in the mechanical world where it takes more energy to get an object moving, than it does to maintain movement, the same holds true in athletics and life. Every time you “relax” or “chill” on your disciplines you go back to ground zero and lose whatever momentum you accumulated. Therefore if you wish to maximize your success it is key that you are as consistent as possible.

I hope this brief book review of the compound effect was helpful and enabled you to understand the core themes of this book so you can apply its ideas to your life. If you have any questions please make a comment below, and if there is any specific book you would like me to discuss let me know. Lastly, always feel free to reach out to me on facebook or linkedIn (Pavan Mehat) or shoot me an email at pavanmehat12@gmail.com.